Advertising, Books, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Marketing, Montreal, News, Opinion, Westmount, Writing

Small World; Small Bookshop

To say I am a creature of habit would, at least when it comes to places of residence, be an understatement. My wife and I moved into our current apartment almost 18-years ago. Prior to that I had lived in another unit in this building for 18-years. To further illustrate my home-body trait, the building in which we live is located on the same street on which I was born. I guess I just don’t like to pack!

Over the years we have seen many neighbours, good and not so good, come and go. For the last several years our across-the-hall neighbours have been great. Common greetings, a smile, a nod, no prying, not noisy, ideal neighbours.

Situated on Ste. Catherine Street in downtown Montreal, Argo has been around since 1966. It has outlived countless businesses by providing excellent service.

Here’s where the ‘small world isn’t it?’ aspect arises. I recently read a post on Facebook by Montreal writer and historian Robert N. Wilkins regarding a burst pipe and subsequent flood at a long-time local bookstore called Argo Bookshop. Situated on Ste. Catherine Street in downtown Montreal, Argo has been around since 1966. It has outlived countless businesses by providing excellent service.

As I read the Facebook post I was struck by the reference to current Argo co-owner, Moti. No last name was mentioned. On a couple of occasions I have, in an attempt to be a good neighbour, brought upstairs packages addressed to my across-the-hall neighbour, so I knew his name was Moti. And the packages seemed to be book-like in shape. Hmmm…

An event at Argo Bookshop pre-COVID

A small bit of research revealed to me that my neighbour is, indeed, the co-owner of the famed Argo Bookshop! Not the original, but the current.

In the meantime, Argo Bookshop offers online shopping. Instead of going to a big box store, consider checking out their website.

I made a point of dropping by Argo yesterday and there was my neighbour. The damage to the inventory is substantial. Just what a bookshop needs during a pandemic; a flood. I wished Moti the very best of luck. Hopefully he and his partner will manage to survive this calamity and Argo will continue to be a favourite haunt for Montreal bibliophiles.

In the meantime, Argo Bookshop offers online shopping. Instead of going to a big box store, consider checking out their website.

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Blogging, Books, Humor, Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge: Hope I’m not paid by the word

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: the Devil is in the Details gives me an opportunity to defend my tight writing style. So let me come at the theme  from a different angle. It’s a matter of degrees, in fact about 180°. I’m not a big fan of lengthy, flowery, detail-laden writing; I’m economical with words – maybe even cheap. I much prefer Hemingway to Dickens and Simenon to Proust. However, in keeping with the theme I will try, using as many details as I can, to illustrate why I’m not a detail writer.

“A woman walks into a restaurant” – okay, I’m good with that – next. I‘d rather the author got on with the narrative than spent several paragraphs describing things. I like to think readers have their own imaginations and for each of them the restaurant will be different based on their own experiences. For this same reason I don’t like when authors, or anyone for that matter, read from a novel. I understand it is a great honor to have so-and-so read from their best-selling work. But I already have the characters’ voices in my head. I don’t want to be thrown a curve by an author who uses a different accent for a favorite character of mine when reading from his or her book. I believe the reading of books is a personal thing. But I digress.

“Outside the temperature is below freezing, and the restaurant is overheated and crowded, a victim of its own recent success due primarily to a glowing review in a local newspaper. The steam on her glasses renders her blind as she attempts to find her husband who is waiting for her. She stands still hoping her glasses will clear before she walks into someone or worse, knocks over a tray of drinks. Suddenly she is taken aback as her glasses come off and now her vision is blurred not by steam, but by her severe myopia. Before she can react a kind voice says ‘Let me rescue you darling, I knew this would happen’ as her husband wipes her glasses, hands them back to her and leads her to their table.”

I’d prefer:

“A woman walks into a hot restaurant on a freezing night and because it is so hot and crowded her glasses fog up. She doesn’t want to bump into anyone so she stands still before looking for her husband. But he is a step ahead of her and takes her glasses, wipes them off and shows her to their table.”

That’s 125 words in the first version and 60 in the second. I realize that if I were paid by the word I’d be in a pickle, but that’s just me!

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Advertising, Blogging, Books, Canada, Humor, Interview, Misused words, Overused words

A blind man running won’t notice

I know all the letters, and many – but certainly not all – of the words, and I even have a layman’s knowledge of many of the numbers. So, as the walrus said to the carpenter, the time has come, to satisfy those who have told me over the years: “You should write.” As for the blind man running, it’s an old family saying, and a tribute to mediocrity as in “May have missed a few spots on that paint job, but a blind man running won’t notice”!

Feel free to click on the business card below and leave me a message!

HavePen

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Books, Overused words

Can you please stop saying “like”?

Definition of LIKE

transitive verb

1chiefly dialect: to be suitable or agreeable to <I like onions but they don’t like me>

2a: to feel attraction toward or take pleasure in :enjoy <likes baseball>

b: to feel toward :regard <how would you like a change>

3: to wish to have :want <would like a drink>

4: to do well in <this plant likes dry soil> <my car does not like cold weather>

intransitive verb

1dialect:approve

2: to feel inclined :choose, prefer <leave any time you like>

http://www.merriam-webster.com

I work in downtown Montreal and therefore find myself surrounded by university students on a regular basis. In stores, cafes and bars these young people bring a freshness and vibrancy to the city and are an integral part of the society.

There is just one problem: the constant overuse of the word “like”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not eavesdropping on private conversations. But sometimes it is impossible not to overhear someone talking to a friend or conversing on a mobile phone.

These young adults use the word “like” in two particularly annoying ways. First as a filler-word much the same as the couplet “you know” is often used to punctuate conversations and give the speaker time to think – this is also very tiresome. This leads to sentences such as “Could we, like, maybe tone down, like,  the use of the word like?” – if only!

The second, and in my opinion more irksome use , is when the word is used to indicate  that an action, reaction or something else took place. This would once have been stated verbally, but now is played out in a little skit.

As an example here is a retelling of an experience as it once was, or should I say as it should be:

Fred opened the bedroom door and was shocked to see an elephant sitting at his desk and using his computer. I told him he need not worry, as the elephant had saved Fred’s work before starting his own. Fred was very relieved to hear this.

This relating of a conversation now becomes somewhat of a screenplay, complete with gesticulations and dialogue:

Fred opened the bedroom door and was like (here the speaker displays  utter surprise  on his/her face) ‘Oh my God!’ when he like saw the elephant sitting at his desk using his computer. I was like (here the speaker makes calming actions with his/her hands) Easy Fred, it’s OK, he saved your stuff before he started and Fred was like (here the speaker makes a great show of relief) Phew, I thought it was gone!

So you can imagine what a lengthy conversation among several people all speaking, or I should say, acting out, at the same time.

If the word Like had a Facebook page, I would be hard pressed to “like” it!

Basically it is just a small thing that gets to me, but don’t even get me started on “basically”; because basically I’m like really peeved that like people seem unable to start a sentence with any word other than basically!

Here’s another take on the “like” problem

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

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Books

Maeve Binchy obituary

 

|| RIP || Maeve Binchy || A TRIBUTE ||

Photo credit: UggBoy♥UggGirl

Maeve Binchy has passed away at the too young age of 72.

 

For those looking for a nice easy read and a little escapism as opposed to snooty literature Binchy could not be outdone.

It has been said that she only wrote one book and then issued variations on it, but it must have worked because she sold millions of books and, after all, keeping your readers happy is a noble cause.

 

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Books

Cultural thoughts from Mario Vargas Llosa

U. Montan-Nobelprize.org

In an interview with Andres Oppenheimer Mario Vargas Llosa laments the change in culture to what he calls “show culture” which I think is akin to the concept of dumbing-down.

Mario Vargas Llosa says in a new book that we are living in a “culture of entertainment” in which everything — including literature, journalism, politics and sex — is becoming increasingly trivial, and that this phenomenon can have disastrous consequences to mankind.

He explains that he has nothing against having fun, but fears that “when we turn culture into only a form of amusement, into only a light way of having a good time, then culture loses its traditional function, which is to be…something that creates a critical attitude that helps us constantly put into question those things that we normally believe are unmistakable truths.”
Vargas Llosa said that, nowadays, “light” literature designed to amuse audiences is killing literature as an art form. In today’s 140-character Twitter world, there could not be a new Leo Tolstoy, James Joyce or Jorge Luis Borges, among other things because the Internet is shortening people’s attention span, and making it increasingly difficult for many to read books.
The book is currently only available in Spanish, but once translated into English I’d be interested in reading it; or at least bits a pieces cut into Tweet-sized segments that I can digest!!!
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Books

Georges Simenon

Georges Simenon - The Rich Man

I believe it was Federico Fellini who once said that anyone who has found his or herself feeling under the weather one sure help is to sit down with a Georges Simenon novel. Well today I’ve a bit of a dicky stomach so I’m not going to stray too far from home and will take Fellini’s advice and give Tolstoy a break and re-read this Simenon.

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Books

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Got to admit I downloaded this one because it was free. Certainly well know as a classic, but it seems I have been bitten (smitten?) and am finding it to be a lovely read. No doubt the translation plays a key role: well translated Leo Tolstoy is a fine combination!

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